The most common plank is the front plank which is held in a push-up-like position, with the body's weight borne on forearms, elbows, and toes. The arms should be directly under the shoulders, with the entire body in a straight line (from toes to head) and the back completely flat, neither arched nor rounded. Many variations exist such as the side plank and the reverse plank. The plank is commonly practiced in pilates and yoga, and by those training for boxing and other sports.
The "Extended Plank" adds substantial difficulty to the standard plank exercise. To perform the extended plank, a person begins in the push-up position and reaches their arms/hands as far forward as possible.
The plank strengthens the abdominals, back, and shoulders. Muscles involved in the front plank include:
- Primary muscles: erector spinae, rectus abdominis (abs), and transverse abdominus.
- Secondary muscles (synergists/segmental stabilizers): trapezius (traps), rhomboids, rotator cuff, the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoid muscles (delts), pectorals (pecs), serratus anterior, gluteus maximus (glutes), quadriceps (quads), and gastrocnemius.
Muscles involved in the side plank include:
- Primary: transversus abdominis muscle, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles (abductors), the adductor muscles of the hip, and the external, and internal obliques.
- Secondary: gluteus maximus (glutes), quadriceps (quads), and hamstrings.
In April 2016 the world record for a front plank, resting on elbows, was set by former Marine officer and retired Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent George Hood with a time of 5 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds. This was broken in May 2016 by Chinese policeman Mao Weidong, who formerly held the record and regained it by planking for 8 hours, 1 minute and 1 second.
Medicine ball plank
- Proper plank technique PlankPose.com
- Knack Weight Training for Women: Step-by-Step Exercises for Weight Loss, Leah Garcia, p. 57. Quote:"Plank variations are abundant, and small changes increase the intensity of the exercise."
- Weight Training for Dummies, Liz Neporent, Suzanne Schlosberg, Shirley J. Archer, p. 263.
- Core Strength For Dummies, LaReine Chabut. Quote:"It's used in all yoga sun salutations and other poses. It is also a Pilates-based exercise used in many of Joseph Pilates exercises..."
- Pocket Guide to Fitness, Louiza Patsis, p. 176. Quote:"The "plank exercise" is used in Pilates classes."
- Kettlebells for Dummies, Sarah Lurie, p.260. Quote:"If you've done other exercises like yoga or Pilates before, you may be familiar with the plank position already."
- The Ultimate Fitness Boxing & Kickboxing Workout, Ross O'Donnell, Trafford Publishing, 2005, ISBN 978-1-4120-6451-4
- Former Marine Officer Breaks World Record Plank to Benefit Semper Fi Fund, Monica Garske.
- Media related to Planks at Wikimedia Commons